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This is a bit late since I am already back in Ireland after the trip but I figured a late post is better than no post.

At the end of November, Les and I took a much needed vacation to the sunny coasts of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It was a bit cooler than we expected, especially when the sun wasn’t out. For the three weeks we were there, it was cloudy and raining for about two weeks of it.

When the sun did come out, the place was amazing. And on top of that, I haven’t had so much GOOD FOOD in my life!!! Coming back to Ireland, I found out that I have gained about 5 pounds during the three weeks there. The jeans are fitting a bit tight now and it’s dangerous seeing as how the Christmas season is here.

We were staying out in Los Christianos so it was a bit more relaxed and chilled out (there were a lot of older people there) as opposed to Las Americas where there seems to be a younger crowd.

Crazy sand castle

In any case, while we were there, I celebrated my 26th birthday! Whoooooo! Seeing as how I haven’t had sushi or Japanese food in a while, we decided to head up to a recommended restaurant for a more Japanese inspired menu. The place we ended up in was the Oriental Monkey in Las Americas.

The ambiance is pretty amazing. It is part of four other restaurants/bars that are under the same chain.

Sangria!

We started off with some sangrias (so incredibly traditional!) because I was having a terrible craving for it. The menu is small but a lot of the stuff on it sounds pretty amazing. It is on the more pricey end compared to most other places in Tenerife but it was still a good experience.

While we were waiting for our food, the chef gave us a complimentary aperitif that was really interesting.

It was a variety of different fried cereal chips and two olive-infused jellies. The olive jellies were really intensely olive-y. Les didn’t like them very much but I loved it. It was like eating two olives at once but with no pits! The cereal chips were also lovely. They were very light and crispy. We then ordered the duck spring rolls to share.

It was DELICIOUS. It wasn’t super heavy despite the size and the sauce it came with was a orangey-citrus type plum sauce that has a bit of chillies mixed in to give it an added spicy kick. It was the perfect starter.

Les ordered the duck fried rice main course while I stuck to sushi.

The fried rice dish was amazing and actually quite a surprisingly filling meal. It came with a marinated duck breast that rested on a bed of fried rice that has been cooked with eggs, shallots, mushrooms and Chinese style BBQ pork.
I got the spicy tuna maki and a crunchy salmon-type roll (I can’t remember what it was actually). The spicy tuna was raw while the other one was cooked. It was pretty good and fixed my craving for some sushi for a while. The tuna was pretty fresh and has a good amount of kick in it. The crunchy roll came with a sweet sort of marinade sauce that went well together.

After our dinner, we took a long walk by the ocean back to Los Christianos where our apartment was. Seeing as how it was my birthday, we dropped into one of the local cafes that were still open to pick up a slice of cake! You can’t have a birthday without birthday cake!

It’s a bit sad 🙂 but it does the job!

~JGM

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Continuing from the previous post, the weekend continued in the county of Sligo on the second day. Since the weather was so horrible (it was the same weekend as all those storms that swept across the UK), we spent most of it inside by going to a few pubs in town, eating at a really good tapas place in the Italian quarter and going to a movie.

The next day however, was a bit more productive as the weather had cleared up a little bit. It started off with a quick stopover at the Donkey Sanctuary since I’ve never seen a donkey before.

Donkey!

Donkey!

This little (big!) guy was standing in the middle of the road. We didn’t want to startle the thing and have it either charge us or get hurt running off so we backed up and left.

That began our journey up to one of the many megalithic tombs that littered across the Sligo county. The one we trekked up to was the Carrowkeel megalithic tombs. The terrain itself was muddy and in some parts, boggy. I managed to slip on my ass on the way down but thankfully, didn’t get mud everywhere.

The view from up there was amazing.

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On the drive up

What was amazing about the tombs was that the stones that they were used to built with stones that weren’t native to the area. This meant that they had to be carried up by hand. Even more amazing is that the tombs pre-dates the pyramids! There are three that are within easy walking distances in the area that we were in. One was caved in on the inside and blocked. Another had a slab in front of it that made it really hard to shimmy in between the rocks to get inside. The third though, had a small space that was open and a person on their hands and knees could crawl inside and comfortably stand up.

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After much convincing, I too got down and slowly crawled through. The inside held three small chambers where the bodies would have been left. All three were also tall enough that a person could comfortably stand up and not hit their heads. Of course, I got creeped out pretty quickly and crawled out with the help of my smartphone lighting the way.

All in all, the trip to Sligo was eye-opening. The landscape is completely different from what I have been used to in Waterford. It very much reminds me of a flatter version of the Scottish highland landscape. Soon after exploring the tombs and drinking in the scenery, the rain started to come down and we made it back to the car before it became lashing rain. That ended our quick soujourn north and a few hours after, we found ourselves back on the M9 back to Waterford.

The view from the top

The view from the top

 

~JGM

 

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It has been a while since my last update so here’s a quick rundown before I continue with the main part of the post.

At the beginning of October, I handed in my Masters dissertation signalling the end of my program. A week of celebration and frantic packing later, I am back in the arms of my significant other in Ireland. A week later, a friend from Vancouver flew in for a visit and we flew over to Edinburgh for a quick visit and reunion with another high school friend from Vancouver (I will update more on the Scottish schenanigans at a later date). After the five days gallavanting around in Edinburgh, I’m back in Ireland and seeing as how it was a long weekend, the significant other and I dropped by a mutual friend’s place in the county of Sligo and he proceeded to show us what the county has to offer.

A panoramic view of Strandhill in co. Sligo

A panoramic view of Strandhill in co. Sligo

One of the first places we visited was Strandhill. It’s a small town in the north-west of Ireland facing the North Atlantic ocean. The weather was thankfully sunny enough and dry enough for stroll down on the beach and the sand dunes where surfing seems to be done year round. As we walked by, bundled up in our coats and jackets, people of miscellaneous ages clad in wetsuits were running into the freezing ocean.

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For the avid golfer, there is also a beautiful looking golf course facing the beach (the Strandhill golf course). And with the boy being an avid golfer, our friend decided to show us a better vantage point so he could get a better view of the course. As he took off, we followed him…. and started to climb up a sand dune in sneakers and flats which got the sand into every single crevice of our footwear.

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Climbing up the dunes

That was all well and good as the views from on top of the dunes were spectacular.

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From up there, you could see the golf course which stretches out away from the ocean. You could also see the town and the whole length of the beach where people were running into the ice cold waves. We walked around the top of the dunes a bit as he pointed out the various landmarks and sites around Strandhill and the further mountains and hills in the county of Sligo.

Then came the moment of truth.

How exactly do we get down without completely slipping and rolling down the sandy dunes?

With what could only be described as a smirk, he walked towards the other side of the dunes… and proceeded to run down the incredibly steep hill.

I could only stared at horror as he did a strange loping run down the side of a dune with a slope angled at a good 50 or 60 degrees. When he got to the bottom, he turned around and the urged the two of us to follow his example.

My boy merely shrugged and with a few words of encouragement, he did the same, albeit at a slower pace.

At this point, I should point out that both guys were wearing sneakers, adequate enough footwear where you could dig your heels into the side and not worry about falling face first and sliding all the way down to the bottom.

I was wearing flats.

And had an inane fear of heights when looking over the edge of anything.

I also had much much shorter legs than the two Irish behemoths with my boy standing at a good 5’10 or 5’11 and the other at a good 6’3 or 6’4. And this is compared to my measly 5’3/5’4.

So, sucking in a deep breath, I resolutely decided to walk down the side of the slope, making sure to dig my heels into the steps that they have already made. While I took my time, the first half of the slope was relatively easy… nearing the end however, the steep slide ensured that my pace was picked up and at the end of it, I ran down, practically crashing into my boy at the momentum and being unable to stop.

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I made it in the end anyways! Looking back, I decided to get a picture of the steep hill… only to find that it wasn’t quite as daunting as it looked from up above. Wow did I feel like a wimp.

After shaking the sand out of our respective shoes, we headed off into town of Sligo for a pub crawl and a good meal. The conclusion of the day ended up with us stumbling into the house and crawling into bed. And so ended our first day in Sligo.

 

~JGM

 

 

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